Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 27 »

July 5, 2012

Questions about Snowdon as Congress CEO quits

 

 

 

Congress CEO Stephanie Bell (left) resigned yesterday as claims were being made that Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon (right), the Member for Lingiari, declined to fund another indigenous health service unless it operated under the control of Congress. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
FULL STORY »

Three arrested in town camp drug raid

About 30 police officers including drug squad detectives and a sniffer dog handler raided the Palmer’s Camp in Basso Road this morning.
They arrested three men in three separate houses and confiscated drugs as well as cash.
The Aboriginal town camp has been under police surveillance for some time and was known by users as “the Maccers Drivethrough”.
Police are expected to make a statement with further details soon. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. SEE UPDATES IN “FULL STORY”.
FULL STORY »

Brrrr!

 

 

 

 

A tree in Siberia? Iceland? No, Neil Ross snapped these pictures on his rural block in Alice Springs, helping nature a bit by keeping his sprinkler on over night on Friday.
The current cold snap started on July 1 with zero degrees, followed by -1.7, -4.9, -4.3, -4, -4.4 and yesterday, -5.2 at 6.41am.
This morning it was -0.7 – we’re on the way back up!
The coldest day ever in Alice Springs – so far as records show – was July 17, 1976 when the thermometer dropped to minus 7.5 degrees.
If you want to be technical, the “terrestrial temperature” yesterday, measured at ground level, was minus 7 degrees. FULL STORY »

A heifer called Camel stars at the 53rd Alice Show as cattle sales bring good prices

Brooke Weir, 10, from Ammaroo Station north-east of Alice Springs stole the show when her heifer called Camel was judged the champion female.
She was one of hundreds of locals entering their exhibits in the 53rd Alice Springs Show.
Brooke (pictured at right) raised the Santa Getrudis heifer she found her as a poddy calf at one of the station’s watering points, abandoned by her mother.
Brook bottle-fed her for six weeks and now Camel spends her days in a paddock near the homestead.
Meanwhile Beef Central reports that the best pens of locally bred milk-tooth steers above 350kg nudged above $1.90 a kilogram liveweight at the annual Roe Creek store cattle sale near Alice Springs on Thursday. FULL STORY »

What a week!

 

 

A massive crowd of 12,000, about 30% more than usual, was at the 53rd Alice Show on Friday, says Show president Brad Bellette. This makes it the town’s biggest social event of the year. And there were more stalls and commercial displays – 250, an increase of 20. Onya, Show Society! COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Briscoe inquest: Alcohol’s ‘flotsam and jetsam’ forever a burden on police?

When Kwementyaye Briscoe died in the Alice Springs police watch house in January it was a tragic event for him, his family and the community.
The coronial enquiry heard evidence that police procedure surrounding the death was inadequate and more appropriate action by several officers may have prevented the death of the extremely drunk man.
Counsel for the Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) Lex Silvester addressed the enquiry and acknowledged the severity of the events: “That Kumanji’s death occurred in the circumstances then prevailing is a matter for profound regret. The loss of a child, brother, sister, relative or friend causes terrible grief the extent of which can only ever be known to those closest.”
However, much of Mr Silvester’s address to the Coroner, in its content and significance to the community, went well beyond the events of that night.
It painted a horrendous picture of the trauma, mayhem and tragedy alcohol is causing, and the intolerable burden that is placed on the police, every day. It went further to urge a sweeping independent review of the take-away liquor trade in Alice Springs. 
The Alice Springs News Online has been an important forum for discussion about better management and control of the use of alcohol. It is in this spirit that we publish excerpts from Mr Silvester’s submission.

PHOTO: Police CCTV image of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the watch house shortly before his death. FULL STORY »

Our very own two speed economy

 

 

Mining vs the rest isn’t the only two-speed economy scenario in Australia: The Northern Territory has one, too.
Here it is Darwin vs the rest, and the numbers are alarming. Reviving the erstwhile expansive market gardens on Aboriginal communities, such as the Ali Curung watermelon plantation (pictured), could be one way of boosting productivity, says Member for MacDonnell Alison Anderson. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
FULL STORY »

Pool contract awarded

The Town Council has awarded to the South Australian company CASA Leisure the management contract for the aquatic and leisure centre, although the council will carry out a range of functions. FULL STORY »

Labor candidate in Braitling puts community harmony at top of agenda

In her first foray into politics, tourism operator Deborah Rock is standing for Labor in Braitling. Not previously a member of the party, she first came to Labor’s attention as a result of penning letters to the editor. Their theme was to reject the idea of widespread fear and insecurity in Alice, asserting that the town was a beautiful and mostly safe place to live. That remains a key message. The magnificent landscape drew her to Alice in 1998 but what has kept her here – and she thinks this is true for many people – is the sense of personal freedom and community.

“You can be yourself and still be successful,” she says, “and you can get to know a wide range of people. I love that small town thing of going to the shops and running into lots of people I know.”

Not surprisingly then, community harmony is at the top of her agenda: “We need to address our problems without creating division, without talking the town down.” KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

What a week!

 

Hi. Welcome to a new column. From next week we’ll post it on Saturdays. It’s comment and opinion, not reporting. It’s what goes through my mind digesting the week’s events over a cuppa on Saturday morning or a whiskey in the arvo.
It’s as much a reflection about the results of our reporting work as it is about the valuable contributions from you, the reader. Use the comment box below to let me (pictured) know what you think. ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Giles takes a regional perspective in his Braitling election campaign

Perhaps it’s because of his shadow portfolios – Indigenous Policy, Transport and Construction, Regional Development – that the Country Liberals’ Adam Giles takes a regional view of issues affecting his electorate. “I’m pro-development, we’ve got to grow the economy, create jobs for the future,” says the sitting Member for Braitling. But he links the old conservative mantra with a certain logic to the specific ills of the region.

He recognises the social issues that are the preoccupation of many – “especially our outrageous law and order issues” – but, beyond what is already being done in a raft of programs and measures, he believes they “won’t be fixed until the economy is fixed”.

“When we have more people in more jobs then we will see some of our social issues subside. With greater participation in the economy, more kids will go to school, people will be healthier, the imprisonment rates will drop, and social issues will have less relevance and impact,” he says.

KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Mr Giles door-knocking Braitling resident Alison Box. FULL STORY »

Massive fuel price savings not passed on to Alice motorists

 

 

When it comes to the exorbitant fuel prices in Central Australia it’s not about the bottom line but about the top line – namely the yellow one in the two graphs above.
It shows what you are paying at the pump compared to the Terminal Gate Price (TGP, mauve line) and the Singapore Parity price (blue line).
And the gap is what the dealers are pocketing.
In the last three months that margin grew massively: the TGP dropped significantly but the dealers hardly adjusted their prices, so that the margin, per liter, is now around 40c.
That’s around five times the average around Australia. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

The Desert Knowledge upstairs-downstairs dilemma

Second story of two.

 

Discovering the “underlying drivers of problems to achieve long term systemic change”.

“Creating new ways for Aborigines and others to work together.”

“Building capacity and innovating new approaches.”

It’s all part of an impressive agenda, but will Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) get its hands dirty and apply its objectives on the ground, where they are most desperately needed, right on its doorstep, here in Alice Springs?

That would, of course, require naming names – elected people not doing their job, highly funded yet inadequate or corrupt NGOs, incompetent government departments. Will DKA have the bottle?

On the day this week when the Alice Springs News Online spoke to CEO John Huigen about DKA’s long-term plans we also visited Hidden Valley, one of Alice Springs’ notorious town camps: there have been two recent attacks on police, with rocks and sticks; there was a stabbing killing late last year; camp dogs were eating people in 2008. Alcohol abuse is rife although its use is prohibited.

As we were talking to prominent camp dwellers Mark Lockyer and Patrick Nandy (pictured) in one house about overcrowding and unwelcome visitors, next-door police were taking away in handcuffs a man suspected of sexual assault.

Yet in that same camp is a “cluster” – a concept of which DKA is very fond – of people whom most would consider to be leading normal lives. By ERWIN CHLANDA with additional reporting by KIERAN FINNANE.

PHOTO: Patrick Nandy outside his mother-in-law’s new house in Hidden Valley. FULL STORY »

Council gets the drum on community harmony, Port Augusta style

While he was “really impressed” with the many “community harmony” initiatives taken in Port Augusta, and with their apparent success reflected in the town’s general appearance and atmosphere, the consultant reporting back to the Alice Springs Town Council was at pains to point out the “very significant” differences between the two towns.

Alice has twice the population, said Craig Wilson of Craig Wilson Consultancy, formerly an employee of the Alice council, now based in Mt Gambier.

Port Augusta has only one Aboriginal community on its periphery, Davenport, in contrast to Alice’s 18 town camps.

Davenport, which is not a dry zone, has a population of around 200, compared with the 2000 to 3000 living in Alice’s camps.

Around 1300 people from outlying areas use Port Augusta as their regional hub, as opposed to the 11,000 to 12,000 for whom Alice is the regional centre, said Mr Wilson.

Key among the initiatives have been the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community Engagement Group and the City Safe Program. The engagement group’s enquiries into budgets and outcomes of various government departments and agencies were initially seen as “threatening” but are now well accepted. City Safe is in the hands of a private contractor whose personal qualities seem to account for a good deal of his success. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

PICTURE: Port Augusta’s ACEG in session. From left – Khatija Thomas Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement,  Aaron Stuart, Katy Burns, Alwyn McKenzie and Corey McKenzie. FULL STORY »

$20m gated community proposed for Pine Gap staff

UPDATE ON MONDAY 3.30pm TO THIS REPORT … click FULL STORY below.

 

The Department of Defence is making an application for a gated community with 40 three-bedroom “multiple dwellings” worth $20m, not counting the cost of the land off Stephens Road. If approved the complex, to house Pine Gap staff, will be built in several stages (see plan above).  ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Doing a better job of managing a shoe-string budget

MacDonnell Shire has already started work on responding to the recently released Review of Councils’ Financial Sustainability.

A financial audit committee has been established, says CEO Diane Hood (pictured left), to sort out the weaknesses in the council’s financial management. The committee is meeting monthly, looking at how their income and expenditure statements are stacking up against the budget, and at their cash flow position.

If a service has been started, yet the grant funding for it has not been received, council can respond in a timely fashion, ie remind the funding body that it needs to pay up!

Ms Hood says two things in particular have contributed to the inconsistencies in council’s financial records pointed out by the review. One is that the shires are only four years old and the “clean-up” of the transfer of assets from the old community councils has still not been finalised. Another is that council was not doing a good job in allocating costs to the specific service delivered. Doing this properly allows managers to see that one service is not “cross-subsidising” another, to set priorities and to be sure they are not over-spending. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Pamela Lofts, 1949 – 2012

For every bird there is this last migration;

Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;

With a warm passage to the summer station

Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

– A. D. Hope

 

Pamela Lofts, well-loved Alice Springs artist and children’s book illustrator, died yesterday. She leaves behind important legacies in both fields.

The desert has been at the heart of her life and art since 1980. She loved its beauty as much as anyone, as evidenced in her work, but more importantly,  she saw the desert as “a storied place” and its stories were the matter she worked with. They told not only of what can be found there, but also what cannot; they were full of the haunting presence of lost possibilities  – the lost way of life of the original inhabitants, the lost opportunity of another kind of settlement too.

This kind of awareness may have equipped her all too well to address the matter of her own dying in an exhibition held at Watch This Space in Alice Springs in July last year. In a series of drawings of migratory birds who have breathed their last, fully expended at the end of life’s long journey, she expressed the sorrow of death at the same time as a profound acceptance of it as a state intimately connected to life, one shared by all living things. The series was remarkable for its meditative beauty (achieved in a sublime display of the artist’s drawing skill) as well as for its unflinching courage.

Much more is to be said about Pamela Lofts’ contribution to art, to children’s literature, to the community – and we will bring a more complete obituary to our readers. Today the Alice Springs News salutes a fine talent and an exemplary spirit who has left this life too soon. FULL STORY »

Desert Knowledge heading for desert wisdom?

First story of two.

 

Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) is five years old. Its precinct is now the place of work for up to 180 people in six organisations, all with a national profile, including CSIRO, which had been shutting down regional labs elsewhere but now has a staff of about 15 in The Alice, and the home-grown Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), the winner of Australia’s highest engineering prize, the 2011 Sir William Hudson Award.
The movement spawned Desert Knowledge CRC which morphed into Ninti One which, amongst other things, is getting millions of Federal dollars for shooting camels from helicopters. But that’s another story.
What has DKA been up to? Should we expect from it Desert Wisdom?  ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

PHOTO: Leadership course participants, front row left to right: Jade Kudrenko, Kellie Tranter, Barbara Shaw, Benedict Stevens, Lynda Lechleitner. Back row left to right: James Nolan, Lyndon Frearson, Mark Lockyer, Kristy Bloomfield, Nichole Kerslake, Donna Lemon, Tom Newsome, Skye Thompson, David Quan, Fionn Muster, Georgina Davison. FULL STORY »

All household garbage south of Tennant Creek to be dumped in Alice Springs

The Alice Springs landfill (center of the picture) is set to become the repository of all garbage in the Territory south of Tennant Creek.

The Alice Town Council is about to call tenders for the expansion of the tip to fulfill a “regional” role, subject to final discussions with the NT Government. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

 

FOR UPDATES:

• Councillor Steve Brown says shift the landfill now.

• Comment from Diane Hood, CEO of the MacDonnell Shire.

• Roydon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Desert Shire: “I don’t know anything about this story.  I doubt its accuracy.”

CLICK “FULL STORY” FULL STORY »